“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero
Many of my fondest childhood memories are tied closely with books. They are uprooted from my memory by the musty smell of well-worn pages opened for the first time in a long time and by the crinkle of those same pages as they turn in expectation of what lies on the next.
Those smells and sounds bring back afternoons spent curled up in the bonus room arm chair with my doodle pad as I worked on sketches of flower gardens and my mom read history aloud. It was homeschooling at its finest. She brought my sisters and I along the Oregon trail, on the decks of the Mayflower, and into the Little House in the Woods with Laura Ingalls Wilder. We visited ancient Rome and the musty halls of castles in the middle ages.
Then, as the introverted, studious child that I was, I would spend hours alone in my room with books of all sizes. My calico cat, Tabby, as my companion and the window seat as my perch, I read and read. My childhood was filled with American Girl books and Dear America diaries, and my teen years were marked by everything from Chaucer to Orwell to Dickens to Rowling. I read Shakespeare's Sonnets for fun and pretended I was a Jane Austen heroine. My best friend from childhood and I often discussed literature like wrinkled old ladies stuck in the bodies of 14-year-olds.
One of the most important and influential mentors in my life was my literature teacher from high school (I was homeschooled, and I did private classes with her for four years). She helped me study the Bible in light of the story of history. She assigned difficult books and challenged my understanding of worldview. She honed my writing skills and expected excellence in my critique of the books that I read. I can still see her red pen marks every time I use contractions and sentence fragments on this blog. I would not be who I am today without those years of reading and writing.
I say all this to say that books matter to me. And although much of my reading is now done on a Kindle or via Audiobook, I never want to forget the historical impact that physical books have.
This is one of the reasons that I cover my house in books. I think decorating with books is one of the simplest, most cost effective ways to bring color, life, and character to any vignette. So, here are some of my favorite tips for using books in decor.
1. Always hunt for books of varying colors, shapes, and sizes at discount prices.
Yard sales, flea markets, antique stores, and thrift stores are some of the best places to find all kinds of books! I let myself spend a few dollars on books every time I see them. You shouldn't have to pay more than a couple of books at any given time!
All of these pretty books were about $1 a piece!
2. Take the covers off of hardbacks for a prettier aesthetic
You may have more hidden gems than you think among the books you already own. That self help book you never read? It might just be a pretty purple underneath the modern book cover.
3. Stack books together to use as risers for other decor
That dainty little teacup just looks prettier on top of those books than it would on its own! Also, the book on top is Jeremy's favorite "how-to" book for golf. There is beauty even in your husband's sports books!
I even put my lamp on top of books in our master bedroom!
4. Keep a stash of books in varying colors on hand for the perfect seasonal decor.
This mantel says "Fall" because of the fall landscape and the pumpkins, but having books on hand in the colors that I decorated with for the season make it all the more appropriate!
I added a little Christmas cheer to the vignette below with a green and red book.
I bet you already have at least a few books on hand already in your home. Add some life and character to your spaces by using them as decor!
And may we never forget the beauty and power of books in this digital age. They make our lives richer.